China, US urged to collaborate for global development

BEIJING: Scientific and technological decoupling between China and the United States will reduce academic output, disrupt the global innovation system and undermine the ability of their scientific communities to jointly explore new frontiers and tackle shared challenges, experts and scientists said.
The scientific strengths and resources of China and the US are highly complementary in many disciplines, and scientists from both countries should maintain mutually beneficial cooperation despite obstacles posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and political pressure from the US government, they added.
An article published on May 30 in the journal Nature said that the number of scholars who declared affiliations on research papers in both China and the US had dropped by more than 20 percent over the past three years. The number of papers that were collaborations between authors in the US and China also fell for the first time last year, the journal said, adding that papers with co-authors from China and the European Union did not see such a decline.
Scholars said that the waning cooperation was partly the result of restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, but also political tensions, characterized by the US Department of Justice’s now defunct China Initiative, a policy launched in 2018 to target US academics over fears of “espionage”.
US legislators have pushed bills, including the America Competes Act of 2022 and the US Innovation and Competition Act, that contain stronger provisions to compete with China on various fronts ranging from technologies to national security. As a result, the legislative proposals have recently rekindled debate on the possibility of scientific and technological decoupling between two of the world’s biggest scientific and economic powers.
Deborah Seligsohn, a political scientist at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, told Nature that “if the United States stops collaborating with China, we’re cutting off our access to a huge part of what’s going on in the scientific world”.
Xue Lan, dean of Schwarzman College at Tsinghua University, said that the US and China boast the world’s biggest research and development budgets and science and technology work forces. They are also the world’s biggest producers of academic literature.
“Collaboration between scientists from both countries has been very close, and this type of cooperation is critical for the global development of science, technology and innovation,” he said.
Some notable examples of China’s technological contributions include 5G telecommunication, renewable energy and battery technologies, he said. But the US government seems to be trying to systematically decouple with China’s science and technology development in recent years.
–The Daily Mail-China Daily news exchange item